Mars!

Seen The Martian yet? You should. Stop reading this, go watch it, come back and finish.

What is Mars really like? It’s the fourth planet from the sun, it’s red, and it’s cold. We all know that much, right? Well we’ve learned so much more about it since I’ve been in school so perhaps it’s time to get ourselves up to speed.

Mars is roughly the same size as Earth- or that’s what most people would tell you if you asked them how big it was. Actually it is about a sixth the size of Earth with about a third the amount of gravity. A person weighing 100 lbs on Earth would weigh 37 lbs on Mars.

There are two moons that orbit the planet named Phobos (fear) and Deimos (flight). There is an atmosphere on Mars and an orbital tilt which gives it seasons like Earth; however, since a Mars year is 1.88 Earth years, you would have about six months of spring, seven months of summer, five months of fall, and four months of winter if you were living in the northern hemisphere. In relation to an Earth year the differences between planets are considerable; but a day on Mars is only slightly longer than 24 hours, making it relatively similar to Earth.

mars-hemispheres

But if you’re a space nerd, like me, than you may have known all that as well. Here are some things you may not…

-Mars is susceptible to numerous dust storms each year. With its thin atmosphere and rocky, dusty surface, it experiences severe storms that would dwarf those seen during the Dust Bowl.

-If you were to get up early on a Martian morning, you would find frost on the rocks because the air contains low levels of moisture. The rivers and lakes that could have been on Mars may be gone but there are polar ice caps, and water ice has been found on the planet’s surface, based on data from the Curiosity Rover.

Olympus Mons
Olympus Mons

-Mount Everest is a very large mountain. But for the true climbing enthusiast, climbing Olympus Mons would be the true test of their ability. Olympus Mons is a volcano located in the Tharsis Montes region of Mars, located near the equator. It’s tall, really tall. It’s the largest volcano in the solar system. Roughly three times taller than Mount Everest and with a surface area the size of Arizona, it is a hugely prominent feature of the red planet.

Mars is a fascinating place and with missions to send humans to its surface by 2030 in the works, we can only imagine what new things we’ll discover when man takes his first steps onto that red soil.

References

NASA

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-is-mars-58.html

Space.com

http://www.space.com/28557-how-to-live-on-mars.html

http://www.space.com/17048-water-on-mars.html

http://www.space.com/20133-olympus-mons-giant-mountain-of-mars.html

Physics.org

http://www.physics.org/featuredetail.asp?id=69

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